We saw earlier in the Qur’an where it says God can take care of Himself. It shows up again in Sura 73. But again – it’s abrogated. This really begs the question – does Islam truly believe that their God can take care of Himself – or does He need people to do it for Him?
Here are the relevant verses from Sura 73 –
[73:10] And remain steadfast in the face of their utterances, and disregard them in a nice manner. [73:11] And let Me deal with the rejectors, who have been generously blessed; just give them a little time.
[73:12] We have severe punishments, and Hell.
[73:13] Food that can hardly be swallowed, and painful retribution.
[73:14] The day will come when the earth and the mountains will quake, and the mountains will turn into a weightless pile.
As you can see – verses 10 and 11 – the ones that tell believers to be steadfast and patient – and that God will take care of Himself – have been stricken. They are replaced with –
[9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past, (and they refuse to make peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. ((Sura 9, Ultimatum (Barã’ah) Quran The Final Testament, translated by Rashad Khalifa, Ph.D.))
Contrast this with what we read in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-35 –
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
Mt 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Mt 18:22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Mt 18:23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
Mt 18:26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
Mt 18:28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
Mt 18:29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
Mt 18:30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
Mt 18:32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
Mt 18:35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
While the Qur’an may claim that it’s God is forgiving – and the original version appears to back that up – the abrogated version most certainly does not. The original verses (73:10 and 73:11) being replaced with verse 9:5 mot definitely changes the tone of the statement. There are really only two ways to interpret the change –
- There was a feeling that God cannot take care of Himself – and needs the followers of Islam to take care of Him. There is no indication as to how this amazing realization takes place. Why would the initial revelation be for followers of Islam to be patient – but then later change to one of essentially convert of be killed? Did the Angel of the revelation all of a sudden realize that God was weaker than what was originally believed? That if the number of unbelievers got to be too high – them maybe God would lose control? Maybe that the believers themselves would give in to the unbelievers – again indicating a lack of ability on God’s part to keep His believers safe from the infidels?
- Or was their an “unmerciful servant” moment taking place? Did the “forgiven” all of a sudden turn and become unforgiving – as did the servant in Jesus’ example?
Neither of these is a good scenario. But it’s a scenario that continues to be repeated throughout the Qur’an. It’s one that believers cannot just shrug off. It show a dramatic shift. And not from a stance of unforgiveness to forgiveness. Not a change from people waging war to people “waging peace”. That’s in essence what happened with the Christian Bible. In the Old Testament – God very much used His people – with His help – to wage war and deliver punishment to the enemies of God and His people. But with Jesus – there was also a dramatic shift – from war to peace. From sacrificing animals and people – to Jesus being the final and ultimate one for all sacrifice.
But that’s not what’s happening with the Qur’an. It is most definitely 180 degrees opposite. Muhammad was aware of both the Jewish and Christian religions. The Angel Gabriel – who was supposed to be the one giving the revelations to Muhammad – also was certainly even more aware of the truth of the Jewish and Christian religions. Are we to believe that the Angel Gabriel was giving directions to Muhammad to reverse back the 180 degree change made with Jesus – and return to a time of convert or die?
Or was this more like an Esau moment – the unmerciful servant – turning around and doing exactly the opposite of what had been done for him? As Esau did when he went to marry a daughter of Ishmael – because he knew it would upset his father.
Is this a moment for Muslims to really begin to take stock of what you believe in? It’s back to the Ishmael / Esau question.
Do you want to believe in the God who promised to take care of Hagar and Ishmael –
or do you want to follow the angry child who went out of his way to make his father and God angry?
Again – remember –
For Hagar and Ishmael –
Ge 21:8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
Ge 21:11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”
Ge 21:14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.
Ge 21:15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.
Ge 21:17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Ge 21:19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.
but for Esau –
Mal 1:1 An oracle: The word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi.
Mal 1:2 “I have loved you,” says the LORD.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’
“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the LORD says. “Yet I have loved Jacob, 3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”
Mal 1:4 Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.”
But this is what the LORD Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD. 5 You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the LORD—even beyond the borders of Israel!’
For Muslims –
It’s your choice really. Ishmael – or Esau.
Should you choose Ishmael – the water given to him in the desert is available to you – through Isa (Jesus).
Should you choose Esau – well, it’s pretty clear what the result will be.
For Christians –
It’s important that we keep in mind the message we saw previously for Jonah. Everyone is a child of God. God wants everyone to be saved. Whether that person is “one of us” is not the question. Again – everyone is a child of God – Christian, Muslim, Jew, pagan, atheist – it doesn’t matter. The blessing is to come through Isaac. Many (most?) of us Christians are not born from the family tree of Isaac. And yet we have the blessing. Who are we to turn away someone else who also wants that blessing.
When it comes to the question of praying for and helping Muslims who also want that blessing – will we be there for them? Or will we also be an unmerciful servant?